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When one thinks of earthquakes the Mississippi river valley MRV does not frequently come to mind One usually thinks of one of Californias numerous faults or somewhere in Alaska However little known to the general public there were two massive earthquakes in the MRV which rank among the top three in the contiguous United States and in the top ten for the entire United States httpwwwneic crusgsgovneiseqlistsbigtenlis Starting in the early morning hours of December 16 1811 a violent shaking of the earth began which continued on for three months producing two of the three largest quakes in the contiguous US this particular quake registered an 80 in magnitude on the Richter scale There was a second quake on February 7 1812 which registered 82 httpwwwneiccrusgsgovneiseqlists bigtenlis The plate which is responsible for this activity is named the New Madrid Seismic zone it is named for the only populated city that was in existence in the time and the area of these earthquakes New Madrid Missouri The New Madrid Seismic zone lies in the central MRV starting in southern Illinois and ending in southeast Missouri western Tennessee Usually an earthquake consists of a principal shock and then the aftershocks the 1811-1812 earthquakes didnt follow the usual pattern There was the first primary shock at and then its aftershocks however the aftershocks from the first quake hadnt subsided before the second principal shock hit Following suite the aftershocks from the second quake had not terminated when the third and largest principal shock hit httpwwweas slueduEarthquakeCenterNuttli1973intensityhtml It is difficult to gage the actual intensity of the earthquakes due to the lack of technology however the strength can be estimated by the damage caused by the quakes and also by the journals of the people settling this part of the country Fortunately a man by the name of Jared Brooks who was a resident of Louisville KY kept a journal of
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